March 20 marks a sad day for Division II athletics and the NCAA as a whole as the first HBCU school in the United States has decided to cease all athletic competition in the NCAA at the end of the 2017-18 academic year.
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania — located just outside of Philadelphia — has been an institution of higher learning since its opening in 1837 and has been home to many great NCAA athletic programs, especially in men's and women's basketball where they have been to the national title game in each, and won the men's title in 1978.
The nation's oldest historically black university's announcement comes just a few months after the football program was shuttered.
Cheyney President Aaron Walton released the following statement in which he outlined why athletics had to go for the university to succeed.
"These are extremely difficult but necessary decisions that are being made on behalf of our entire student population, and to help insure the university's future."
The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference — Cheyney's home since the league began — released the following quote on losing an original member for one of the biggest leagues in all of NCAA competition.
"It is a sad loss for our entire PSAC family to have a charter member leave our membership," PSAC Commissioner Steve Murray stated.
The reasoning behind the decision is mainly financial, with the university having their enrollment dip to nearly under 1,000 students in recent years, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State System for Higher Education (PASSHE) enduring budget cuts and an uncertain future as far as the schools themselves.
Athletics will not completely come to an end though, just as an affiliate of the NCAA. Men's and women's basketball, as well as volleyball will operate in another conference in the future, and the program as a whole will be an independent body.
But nonetheless, this is an unfortunate day that many may have seen coming for a once great athletic program in the Northeastern United States.
The Wolves have been a hallmark for the PSAC and D2 since they began play, and were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the men's basketball title just this year.
But now, the athletics program looks to the future for a new beginning and an opportunity to establish new traditions, history, and success for the blue-and-white of the country's first HBCU.